While many of us have families that are less than ideal to spend time with, a couple of things have shown up lately that put some perspective on that.
First, in my On This Day on Facebook, my post about Santa coming to school has shown up multiple times. (Different days for different years.)
I used to work at a school in a very low-income neighborhood.
Our kids were the recipients of toys from a toy drive. Each December, Santa came to our school and gave a bag of gifts to every homeroom teacher (to distribute at the end of the day, and to be opened at home). One gift for every student in the school.
Kids, as you can imagine, were excited.
For some of them, that was it. Their Christmas present.
On behalf of those kids and kids everywhere like them, thank you for your toy donation. Thank you for not grumbling that it has to be new.
Some of them had parents that fit the low-income stereotype. But most of those kids had parents who loved them dearly, who worked two or three or four jobs to try to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. (Where are the kids who eat free breakfast and lunch at school eating this week? Or over spring break? Or over the summer?) What a gift for them to receive something nice. I have always hoped they got something they wanted.
Also on Facebook the other day, the following story was shared by a woman who had been a tutor for Child Protective Services.
“I had a child once ask me if Santa was real. After much inner debate I told him the truth. He breathed a huge sigh of relief. Why? Because, as he said, ‘That’s why Santa never came to my house!’ He knew his mother was abusive and neglectful, but the thought of Santa neglecting him meant that he really was unlovable. Santa is great for healthy homes but we need to be very mindful of the homes that aren’t.”
And we can rant and rage and wave our tiny fists at the parents all we want. At the end of the day, we want physically and emotionally healthy kids, and we need to be more of a village to help that to happen.